NWWF Auction Day a ‘Bright, Sunshiny’ Affair

The star of the three-day Naples Winter Wine Festival weekend took place Saturday, Jan. 28.

BY January 30, 2017


If you read our January feature story that went behind the scenes of producing the 2017 Naples Winter Wine Festival, you know it takes more than a village to ensure it goes off without a hitch—and raises maximum funds for the children of Collier County.

Guests mingle around the “Phoenix Orange” 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible up for raffle

Want to know how it all came together? Well, the proof of the hardworking staff, trustees and unprecedented eight chairs is in the pudding this year: 100 percent of the $15,066,000-plus raised over the three-day event (yes, you read that figure correctly) will go directly to the Naples Children & Education Foundation. (Compare that with last year’s already whopping $11.1 million.) And funds are still coming in through the online auction, which ends tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Themed ‘Bright Sunshiny Day’ this year, the festival culminated in Saturday’s auction at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples.

Musicians welcoming guests to the event

The affair did not disappoint, starting with the two hours preceding the auction. As is traditional, guests spent the time milling about the auction lot room and tented lawn, where the food and wine first start flowing. As usual, the gourmet bites came from the Ritz family of restaurants across the country. (Read coverage on the food and wine itself here.) Spotted on the lawn were Marco Island JW Marriot chef Gerald Sombright, fresh off his appearance on Top Chef, as well as Wolfgang Puck, Judge Judy Sheindlin and many other famous and distinguished faces from near and far.

A display for Lot 23, Boogie to Bottlerock

As a high school marching band announced it was time to move onto the next phase, servers and dancers hidden among the crowd joined them in breaking out into a flash mob to welcome guests into the auction tent.

Kicking off the bidding was veteran auctioneer Humphrey Butler, ever ready with the humor. (“Do not give up on me, sir, because people will think you’re made of straw!” “Just ask him to raise your allowance, madam! Or go into the husband store and buy a new one!” “If you’re not familiar with The World, you should be, because it’s like a floating Buckingham Palace with an engine in it!”) Vintner and auctioneer Ann Colgin surprised the guests with a return for a five-lot run, beginning with the football-focused Lot 5, Hall of Fame Feasting. (“You can get a pass from Joe Montana!” she encouraged bidders. “I’d like Joe Montana to make a pass at me!”) Also joining to alternate with Butler was Ursula Hemacinski, who even got a bit emotional at the generosity toward the end of the bidding.

Judge Judy feeling the pressure to bid on the opening lot

The sun-shaped paddles flew and money (and wine) flowed as generously as water, but one surprise? The lot featuring, among many things, a private cocktail party with actor Kevin Bacon went for only $120,000. (It’s all relative, folks.)

However, extremely impressive: Not a single one of the 62 lots of luxury experiences went for less than $100,000. The highest-selling lot, a 2017 McLaren 570GT sports car, went for $480,000. It just edged out two other lots, one starring a trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast ($460,000 courtesy of co-chairs Bill and Debbi Cary) and another featuring country crooner Darius Rucker.

Cameras capture a winning bid.

Another whopping addition came at the auction’s close, during the auction’s Fund a Need (“Lot 63”), which this year was dedicated to children’s health care. Bidders pledged varying amounts on the spot, which, with co-chair Jeff Gargiulo leading by example from up on stage, amounted to $1.6 million.

The auction also wrapped up beautifully with a festival first: an original song, For the Children, penned by the trustees and Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Monty Powell, who performed the song onstage with the eight co-chairs. View a video clip of the touching moment below.

The Naples Winter Wine Festival has now raised more than $161 million since its 2001 inception. This year’s grants will be awarded on March 13.


IMG 5162 (1) from Cayla Childs on Vimeo.


Related Images: